A Record Number Of GOP Hopefuls, But 14 Dems In ’76 Came Close

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker joined the Republican presidential field on Monday, promising limited government and a conservative agenda that would unite the party and win in November.  (Click here for full speech.)

No review of his announcement was complete without a reminder that he becomes the 15th Republican to enter the race.  Since 1972, when primaries replaced conventions as the vehicle for selecting a nominee, no presidential field has been larger.  Here’s the list, in chronological order:

  1. Ted Cruz — March 23
  2. Rand Paul — April 7
  3. Marco Rubio — April 13
  4. Ben Carson — May 4
  5. Carly Fiorina — May 4
  6. Mike Huckabee — May 5
  7. Rick Santorum — May 27
  8. George Pataki — May 28
  9. Lindsey Graham — June 1
  10. Rick Perry — June 4
  11. Jeb Bush — June 15
  12. Donald Trump — June 16
  13. Bobby Jindal — June 24
  14. Chris Christie — June 30
  15. Scott Walker — July 13

And it ain’t over yet.  John Kasich announces on July 21 and Jim Gilmore follows in early August, for a grand total of 17.  The five-member Democratic field is comprised of Hillary Clinton (April 12), Bernie Sanders (April 30), Martin O’Malley (May 30), Lincoln Chafee (June 3) and Jim Webb (July 2), and that is not close to a party record.

The largest class of Democratic presidential candidates may have been in 1976, when the Dem nomination looked especially valuable, given the GOP was still trying to recover from the Watergate scandal and the incumbent, Gerald Ford, came to office via a resignation.  An alphabetical list of the 14 Democrats who were in the mix for ’76:  Birch Bayh, Lloyd Bentsen, Jerry Brown, Robert Byrd, Jimmy Carter, Frank Church, Fred Harris, Henry Jackson, Ellen McCormack, Terry Sanford, Milton Shapp, Sargent Shriver, Mo Udall and George Wallace.

There were ten Democratic hopefuls in 2004:  Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton.

(NOTE:  Thanks to Hank Hankla of Durham, N.C., Richard Rector of Martinsburg, W.Va. and Ron Merlo of Glendale, Calif. for their timely additions to the ’76 list.)

6 thoughts on “A Record Number Of GOP Hopefuls, But 14 Dems In ’76 Came Close”

  1. 14 Dems ran in ’72:

    Shirley Chisholm;
    Fred Harris;
    Vance Hartke;
    Hubert Humphrey;
    Henry Jackson;
    John Lindsay;
    Eugene McCarthy;
    George McGovern;
    Wilbur Mills;
    Patsy Mink;
    Edmund Muskie;
    Terry Sanford;
    George Wallace; and —
    Sam Yorty.

    If you count Birch Bayh and Harold Hughes, you can run the total up to 16.

  2. Side note on the 1976 field: I recall that, when the size of the Democratic field became clear, someone wrote in to Time magazine to say that the Democrats needed to remember “that a democracy is where everybody votes, not where everybody runs.”

  3. Former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson is also running on the Republican side, bringing the total to 18 candidates when all is said and done.

  4. What about Ellen McCormack, the anti-abortion/pro-life candidate, who got 238,027 primary votes and 22 convention votes? She was among the first female Democratic Party candidates to run for president (and was the first female candidate to qualify for federal matching funds and Secret Service protection). Two other “well-known” but unannounced candidates who received primary and convention votes in 1976 were Edward Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

  5. I know this is a bit late, but. . . If Robert Byrd, who was a favorite-son candidate, counts, shouldn’t we also count Adlai Stevenson III? Daley ran him as Illinois’ favorite son in the ’76 primary, and he won a majority of the delegation.


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